|"I'll teach you to hit other kids!"|
Fathers and grandfathers are expected to be tough enough to protect their families from all hazards foreign, domestic, economic and school yard.
Not being tough enough is a charge leveled against our current president.
This excellent communicator in public apparently has a difficult time making his rhetoric stick in the up close negotiations with the opposition. Reagan against the Russians with star wars technology was tough! LBJ with anybody unfortunate enough to be on the recieving end of his chain mail charm was real tough!
As long as we're talking politics, my nominee for tough is a former Senator from Maine and later Carter's Secretary of State--Edmund Muskie--the candidate who cried. As a legislator he knew few peers. Few know that much of the clean air legislation of the seventies came because this saavy legislator would smoke big black smelly cigars in the conference sessions where House and Senate versions of the same bill has hammered out.
Muskie's colleagues couldn't wait for an excuse to escape that smoke filled room to go out and kiss babies of tourist constituents, take a phone call or check with his office. While they were gone, Muskie would slip clean air language into the legislation--and by the time other members of the committee held their nose and returned--the deed was done. Each half of the congress passsed the conference report, the president signed it into law and Muskie kept at it, using that cigar and an iron bladder to full advantage.
I read someplace that Republican Presidents are elected to protect us, Democrats are elected to take care of us. The ying and yang of politics represents the traditional roles of each parent. Dads are there to protect. Moms are there to nurture.
Bringing it down to a family level, toughness, make that meekness is essential, especially in both parents and always in grampas!
Traditionally the concept of meekness is synonomous with weak, milquetoast, ineffectual. Most folks believe that when the Bible says the meek will inherit the earth, it's because they're too weak to claim it for themselves.
Consider this: a church leader (LDS President David O. McKay) visited the junk yard of a good friend and agreed to give up his cherished gold watch for an experiment. His friend measured the timepiece with a micrometer, set some instruments on a crusher machine and placed the precious watch underneath a heavy, heavy weight. When he let it fall, the crusher machine stopped mere milimeters above the watch.
The leader said, "That is meekness! Tremendous power under complete control. It's the image of a powerful Blacksmith cuddling his newborn babe.
We enjoy a British series on PBS entitled "Larkrise to Candleford". Last night the prosperous owner of the Hotel in Candleford discovers he has an illigitimate son--who by the time of the episode is about nine years old. The father arranges for his son to come to Candleford from the orphanage far away and then has a riding accident and lands in the hospital. His friends who run the post office take "Little Man" in and nurtures him til his father heals. This wealthy man cannot wait to "take control" of the boy --and while yet weak and recooperating he lacks the self control to hold off and demands the boy be brought to him. The father's lack of control colors the boy's life from then on--and he rebels against the well meaning, but demanding father.
Yakoff Schmirnoff, the Russian Comic once remarked that America was, "Such a country! Where else can you take your children to Walmart so you can yell at them!"
Parents who aren't clever enough to give their kids five dollars and challenge them to find the very best buy to keep them from whining, deserve what they get!
Meekness is such an essential characteristic of parent hood. My friends Chris and Ellen,the parents of our adopted gramkids are the most meek in the face of seven active, sometimes rebellious little guys. One night their number three, Cheetah Joe started building a tent with blankets on the furniture just as their Family Home Evening was about to start. He was excited only about the tent.
I watched his Dad gently invite him to join the rest of the family. Nuthin' doin'! So they started without him--and he kept building. Mom started teaching a scripture lesson and the tent kept rising. "C'mon Joe, please shut it down and join us." she said evenly. (At our house the gentle persuasion would have given away to a parental explosion and a confiscation of the blankets!)
My model parents were still gently inviting and Cheetah Joe was carrying on as if they might forget about him---then came the next level--and from the Mom--Ellen, the enforcer! Gently but very firmly she escorted Cheetah Joe away from his blanket skyscraper and led him to a "time out stool" He went, cuz he saw the determined look in her eye. She went back to the lesson--- Wait for it---one beat, then two and a frustrated scream erupted from Joe on the stool! Though we were guests, Cheetah Joe didn't care. He's a good boy--just a little willfully focused sometimes.
Fatherhood (and Gramfatherhood) can be spoiled by a lack of self control, that hopefully Cheetah Joe will learn over the years before he graduates, marries and moves away.
One father that I know has suffered two divorces among his children -- and one son that I know well avoids his father because of the iron control he still exerts. He's an impressive church worker and excellent provider, but his grown children still quake and shudder because he still treats them like they're little kids. How sad!
I have a close relative who went through his own divorce recently because (in part) his wife didn't support him in his quest for more education. She craved what she called ME time, and he hid out at a nearby restaurant to study, rather than go home. When he did go home, he became more and more frustrated because she didn't cook and clean for him as his mother had! When the house forclosed which they foolishly tried to buy with a variable rate mortgage WHILE he was taking out hundreds of thousands in student loans that only he felt he HAD TO HAVE--they went their separate, somewhat selfish ways. Though they had a lot of fun trying, they produced no offspring, and wisely so---neither of them had finished fully developing their own self control. Gentle self control is an absolute necessity in a parent (or Grandparent)
Practice meekness, Grampa, and know that kids eventually grow up some--even if it takes til they reach retirement age.